Recall one of the most memorable dishes you’ve tasted.   Most likely it was carefully prepared by a seasoned chef possessing the same skills and attributes that aspiring marketing and sales operators should strive for.  

You consumed a product that had to be produced in a repeatable way, but that could still be tailored to your liking.  If it was salad, you didn’t go to the salad bar to assemble it yourself. If it was a main course or dessert, multiple ingredients were meticulously combined in a way that exceeded your expectations.  

Top revenue drivers, just like great chefs, need to consistently deliver a product (high-quality leads) to their consumer (the sales team) that exceeds expectations.  They curate and combine custom, actionable data ingredients instead of serving data from bulk providers cafeteria style. Chef Gordon Ramsay may have said it best,

  “I am well aware that a chef is only as good as his last meal.”

It starts with ingredient selection (data elements)

Great chefs and revenue drivers have a vision for their signature dish or campaign that can only be fulfilled with specific ingredients or data elements.  If one data element is missing, the end result will be compromised. If it’s in short supply, the dish or campaign can not scale. Selecting the right elements can be tricky.  To cut down on trial and error do what other chefs do – collaborate with those who have relevant experience.

The quality of the ingredients is critical

You may have heard of or seen the movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, which profiles Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old sushi master, and owner of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a Michelin three-star restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station.

Jiro explains how important it is to work with specialized vendors. There’s the guy who sells Jiro rice (a variety the vendor won’t make available to any other restaurants because they wouldn’t cook it right), the one who sells tuna, the shrimp vendor…you get the idea. Any restaurant chef worth his salt is picky about who gets to supply ingredients, equipment, or other materials. Likewise, any revenue driver worth his salt will build a campaign and serve leads based on only the highest quality data elements. With substandard data, the reputation of the revenue driver will plummet just as quick as the restaurant serving low-quality sushi.

Inventory management

Ground spices die quickly. So give them a whiff—if they don’t smell like anything, they won’t taste like anything. And if they don’t taste like anything, you’re cooking with a flavorless, brown powder.  Just like perishable ingredients, data elements have a shelf life that must be respected. Sure, you could cut corners, but the quality of your deliverable will suffer. Instead, put a process in place that ensures you are working with the freshest data possible.

Pay attention to cleanliness

Hygiene is just as important in the marketing and sales departments as it is in the kitchen.  Top chefs ensure hygiene is routine, meaning cleaning is built into the process of prepping food and cooking instead of something done at the end of a shift.  In a kitchen, different cleaning methods are applied to different tools. Similarly, in your data kitchen, different hygiene techniques are applied to different data elements.  And when your highest value custom data elements require it, the human attention to detail is critical. Just like top restaurants work with specialized cleaning vendors, top revenue drivers work with a vendor specialized in scrubbing data and measuring data hygiene.   They intentionally invest in cleanliness because a shut-down stemming from poor hygiene will crush the business.

Put a QA process in place

If you’ve watched an episode of Top Chef, you may have noticed cooks periodically tasting the ingredients they are cooking to ensure the finished product is up to standard.   You may have also noticed meals being inspected before they left the kitchen for VIP guests. Quality data, just like quality dishes, has an investment cost before it is consumed. Having someone do a quality assurance inspection before the final product is consumed protects that investment and your reputation.  Even if you are serving dated data from a bulk provider, your data as a strategy solution must have this in place. Data, like meals, rejected by the customer can be corrected, but at that point, the damage is already done.

Listen and anticipate

Visionary chefs are appreciative and thoughtful when it comes to history and tradition with cooking, but open-minded enough to study, and when appropriate, embrace changes.  They make it a priority to get feedback from customers, think ahead of the competition and even ahead of the customer. Just as the best chefs are able to anticipate what people will want in the future, the best revenue drivers are on the lookout for new data points and new ways to combine those data points into data products the sales team will eagerly consume.  They routinely get feedback from the sales team and understand the simple truth that leveraging the same data sets as the competition is not a differentiating strategy.

Know your numbers

As Anthony Bourdain pointed out, restaurants need to bill triple what their food costs to be financially sound.  Chefs need to know how much each menu item contributes to overall financial success, the cost of producing each item, the amount of labor required to produce certain items, the yield from various cuts of meat and seafood, etc.   Likewise, revenue drivers need to know similar aspects of their data strategy. Custom data elements make all the difference in successful campaigns. They are certainly more expensive, but when you understand the yield, you’ll understand why top chefs don’t buy tomato paste in cans.

Scale efficiently

Recipes outlining precise measurement of ingredients and close attention to timing are essential to consistently producing high-quality signature dishes for many clients each day.   Chefs can create recipes from scratch, but often they will put their own unique twist on proven recipes they’ve enjoyed at other restaurants.

As a revenue driver, you could create data recipes from scratch with plenty of trial and error.  But collaborating with a data partner who can help you modify your unique recipe for actionable data is much more scalable.     

Work with a great team

Great chefs are surrounded by a team ( sous chef, line cooks, kitchen porters, dishwashers, etc ).  They seek input from the team as well as other chefs to refine the process and produce a consistent, high-quality product.  Revenue drivers investing in “data as a strategy” also need a top-notch team they can rely on and learn from. Look for a team with relevant experience, that puts a premium on orchestrating high-quality data elements, and help you deliver a steady stream of consistently high-quality dishes (leads).  

If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs. And that’s exactly what I did. – Gordon Ramsay

In a restaurant, as in any business, the demands are to bring in customers, keep them happy, preserve the brand, justify higher margins, get more positive organic PR, reduce waste, and fend off potential competitors.  Like cooking, driving revenue with data is an art form. If you think like a chef and enjoy the process as much as the finished result, you’ll consistently have your customers (the sales team) clamoring for the dishes you serve and spread the word to their peers internally.  Bon Appetit!